Since buying our cottage, we’ve been hauling massive loads of stuff from the dock up the hill to our summer getaway. Every time, we complain about the hill and the many trips we have to take. We tell ourselves “We need to get a golf cart!”, which are common on Keats to putter around / haul up stuff. But we kept putting it off. We’d already bought a lot of stuff this year (cottage, boat, etc). But then we took over a BBQ and that was the final straw. Hauling that box up the dock and the hill took forever.
So, we said screw it, we may as well get the golf cart now and actually make use of it on future awkward items being sent over. It was, of all the things we’ve purchased in the last few months, one of the easiest transactions to complete. The team at Attica were incredibly helpful and had our golf cart customized and ready to ship within a week. They arranged the whole shipping process, including the water taxi. We just had to hand over the money.
As logical as this sounds, our experience with many cottage-related things has been that money doesn’t matter – there are still a million hoops to go through!
So, huzzah, golf cart! And let me tell you, ripping around in that thing is a lot of fun! I invented many reasons to use it on our first weekend!
The last few months have been scheduled to the brim. Although our issues are very much “first world problems,” managing our overflowing schedule has been a struggle. After purchasing our cottage a few months ago, we have found ourselves juggling endless things to do and to buy, each with its own set of complicated steps. Since the cottage is on Keats Island, we often have extra things to consider when taking items over. Since our car only fits us and the stuff for one trip (bin & cooler & other small items), we often have to make a special trip with anything larger. This means finding a spot in the week where we can both pick up and take the larger item to the boat, without the kids (since the car seats need to be removed to fit the bulky item), or arranging for it to be shipped on the water taxi (like we did with the mattress and golf cart). We only have one car, and some set evenings that the car is in use for activities, so scheduling is key.
Buying a boat (though super exciting) was more complicated and time-consuming than we expected. It took us about 4 months and 3 brokers to accomplish. Once that was done, it came with its own set of lists: things to fix, equipment to buy, mooring to secure. And of course, learning how to drive it. Each step has its own set of steps yet again, it seems. To get the mooring, we had to deal with local politics, make a trip out to choose & measure the depth of the spot, order the custom buoy and chain / rope, have those delivered, work with someone to order the mooring anchor and then finally we’ll drop the anchor once it’s all assembled. This has taken weeks and endless phone calls as well as quite a large learning curve on our part.
Yes, we’re accomplishing a lot of stuff in a very short period of time, but it’s not been easy. Since we’ve been juggling so many projects at once, I’ve found the key to our sanity has been careful planning on both our calendar and in our list app. I wanted to share some of our tips for staying on top of so many projects.
If you find your To-Do lists growing exponentially, or your calendar filling up, I suggest the following:
- Divide and conquer – share your to do list with your partner, if you can. When one of us feels overwhelmed with too many items on our list, we split up the tasks. Additionally, there have been many nights or days where one parent has to take over solo parenting so the other can run around getting ‘stuff’ done
- Set aside time to make calls – I find that it’s more efficient to set aside a block of time to make many calls at once than to field or make many calls throughout the day
- Use your calendar for everything – My husband and I have shared calendar streams, as well as personal streams. This way, we don’t book things on days when the other is not free. Most of our days overflow, but that’s ok. It’s nice to know exactly when everything needs to happen and to be able to spot days or times when you can book in meetings or shopping trips.
- Manage your lists in an app – we use the app ShopShop, which is by no means glamorous, to manage all our shopping lists and to do lists. The app is shared in the cloud, so if one of us updates the list, it’s reflected in all versions. We have granular lists, from a regular grocery list to lists for the cottage (one food, one ‘stuff’), the boat, and specialty stores like Costco. For projects, I’ll often create a to-do list as well.
- Work backwards & keep it granular – if we know the final step in a project, I find it best to set a date for that (if possible), then work backwards, scheduling in all the tasks that run up to the completion of the project. Marking out individual steps to anything makes them easier to tick off (this is also how I work on decluttering our home).
- Co-ordinate projects – if we know we’re taking a trip to Keats, I try to think of which project could be completed prior to that date. For example, which large things could be arranged to take onto the boat, or which specific items could be taken to finish certain renovations on the island. Space is limited, so items get checked off based on both space and priority.
- Meal plan once a week – who has time to think of meals and grocery shop? We try to take most of the thought out of dinners (which for us happen at 5pm, so we need to be organized) by meal-planning and doing our grocery shopping once a week. Our shopping is a combination of delivery with Spud and local grocery stores (Save-On-Foods, Loblaws) with occasional trips to Whole Foods or Costco for specialty items. If we’re eating seafood or a meat other than ground beef, I’ll often make a day-of visit to a butcher or seafood store, since we prefer both fresh and organic whenever possible.
- Schedule in downtime – make sure you have days that don’t involve endless errands. Get out and enjoy some relaxation too.
When it comes to beaches, Vancouver has a lot of options. We really are very lucky. But as parents in North Vancouver, we’ve become kind of lazy about going to the “best” beaches (you know, Jericho or Kits). With young kids still napping, it’s a long trek. Most often we head to Ambleside or Deep Cove or Cates Park. Late this past summer, we realized that Third Beach in Stanley Park is really not that far away! And it is downright amazing!
On days when the tide is out, the beach spans forever with beautiful sand bars. The sand is wonderful here, with fewer rocks for little feet to navigate.
You can get to Third Beach by biking around Stanley Park or alternatively you can drive there. There is a small pay parking lot above the concession stand. Near the end of the summer, it was not a busy beach, but my guess is you need to arrive early to secure your parking on busy summer days!
When we went to Hawaii in January, I spent a while loading up our iPads with apps geared toward each child. Since we have two iPads, we were able to specify the video content and apps on each iPad to cater to the age and interests of each child. My 5.5 year old, Aiden, rarely plays on the iPad. When given “screen” time, he almost always chooses to watch tv. Since he doesn’t get much screen time to begin with, gaming isn’t a mainstay for us.
With that said, flying at night with two boys unlikely to sleep, I was prepared. I checked out ‘Best of’ lists, I browsed reviews, I put together quite a lot of apps for my boys to test. In the end, several apps were a bust, while others were clear winners. Some apps required a lot of parental involvement to click through screens or explain, so those were a bust from my perspective, at least for air travel.
Top iPad Apps / iPhone Apps Decided By My 5-Year Old
Aiden gravitated toward just a small selection of apps, which he played almost exclusively on the plane ride there and back (instead of watching tv). His app preferences lean toward puzzle-based games right now (things that are challenging) vs just zone-out games (like racing cars or trains).
- Pettson’s Inventions – this app kept him occupied for hours and was the most engrossing app he’s ever played. He was fascinated with trying to put the machinery together, though sometimes it did cause frustration. In the end, he completed the whole game.
- DragonBox Algebra – this is a math-based app that is more game than anything, but it does secretly teach the basics of algebra, and I’m all for that. Aiden completed quite a number of levels in this recently!
- Dots / Two Dots – though higher levels can be frustrating, Aiden is as much addicted to this game as I am
- Plants vs Zombies – can be great fun, until you get eaten by zombies!
- Reading Rainbow – this was an unexpected win, with Aiden reading through a selection of books and exploring the app
- Fruit Ninja – an easy-to-play game that keeps you on your toes
- Anything by Toca Boca – Cars, Kitchen, Builders, Doctor, etc. With so many apps to choose from, you can choose ones your child will like for many years (from age 2+). We have found some apps more challenging than others, and some a great deal less interesting. But overall a guaranteed good app.
These apps also merit inclusion, but eventually become frustrating:
- Where’s My Water – this one is a hit, but eventually gets quite difficult
- Sprinkle or Sprinkle Islands – very much like Where’s My Water, and also gets quite difficult
If you are looking for Educational Apps for 5 year olds, there’s quite a lot of options for “Kindergarten prep”, but in our experience they aren’t very interesting to play. Aiden did not enjoy playing any of the Starfall apps or the MeeGenius app, for example. App developer Originator make a series of apps that truly engage at different reading readiness levels: Endless Alphabet, Endless Wordplay, and Endless Reader. If you are willing to play alongside your child, you could also use a game such as Charades! that is endlessly fun for early readers. Right now, we use the iPad primarily for entertainment, so I never push Aiden to “play” anything he doesn’t want to play.
With two very active little boys, there’s not much “break” to Spring Break. Two weeks off school is necessary and great, but it did throw a wrench into a routine I felt we were all finally getting used to. I struggled to fit my work time in, but we did not struggle to create new memories.
We went to the cottage. Twice. The first weekend (the first trip for the kids!), we discovered a leak (yay!) and our pump broke (yay!), but we had glorious sunshine. The second weekend, which originally looked like it was going to be nicer, wasn’t. Still, we went. We just didn’t stay long. It was cloudy but less chaotic. We now have a huge pile of odd sticks, shells and sea glass. Pinterest to the rescue!
We had a kid-free weekend to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary (which is coming up in 2 weeks). We went to Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler. Why not just go to the cottage without the kids? First, we LOVE it at Nita Lake. Second, I scored a deal on a Facebook moms group! It felt so good to be lazy, get a massage and eat amazing food.
We spent a lot of time outside going to some favourite local parks, meeting with friends, or just chilling in the sun with scooters and bikes and sidewalk chalk.
We went to our favourite activity spots, namely the Aquarium, Science World and Maplewood Farm. These are always the top requests when we have a full day off!
We threw in some last-minute fun! To top it off, we drove back from Whistler and decided to treat the kids to a visit to the PlayDome. I hadn’t been willing to take both kids myself mid-week, but I am SO glad we went. They both had a blast!
So, was it relaxing? Sometimes. You know, if you don’t count the unexpected leaks and things breaking and rain and ongoing frustrations in trying to find a boat. But, you know, if you forget about those things… then yes!